Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Special Letter in Memory of David DeKruyter

This is an email that was sent out by the brother of my friend who died on Easter. I thought it was really good and special. It probably won't mean as much to you as it meant to me, but I hope you can see the life that "Duncle Ave" had and the wonderful blessing that he was to me and to others around him.

Dear Family, Friends, and Loved Ones:

I am writing this late Sunday (Easter) night to share the news with you regarding the home-going of my brother, Dave. Some of you may know Dave’s early history; most of you probably do not. David was born three months prematurely on August 29, 1953, causing damage to the retinas of his eyes, resulting in the loss of all sight in the left eye and more than 95% in the right eye. Dave went to a private school in Chicago for two years, and then transferred to the Indiana School for the Blind, where he finished elementary and high school. At age 14 his mother died, and four years later his father and one older sister passed away. From that time, Dave and I lived together for brief periods, and near each other in the Bloomington and Indianapolis areas. When I moved to Hammond, Dave followed. When I pastored in Goshen, Dave became the pianist and organist for our church. After I left Goshen, a Pastor friend of ours in Pekin, Illinois, offered Dave an opportunity to come and be the pianist and organist of Bethel Baptist Church. Dave has been in Pekin, for five years living by himself in a nice high-rise apartment building.

He had been having some health issues, recently, and during a physical a week ago Monday, it was discovered that Dave had cancer of the colon, liver, and lungs. It was not suspicioned that he had this serious a problem, because he could not see the symptoms that a normally sighted person would have seen. He had surgery this past week, in Peoria, Illinois, to remove a section of his bowel and reconnect it, which seemed a success. He was recovering from his surgery, and plans were being made for him to be transferred to a nursing facility in the Indianapolis area upon his release this coming Wednesday, at the earliest. He had expressed his wishes to be close to the family in the remaining days. We were not expecting Dave to improve, and figured he might have only several months, if that long.

My sister, Ann, had been here this past week; staying with Dave, and shuttling back and forth between the hospital and his apartment. Yesterday, Doug and I arrived in Peoria and had a good visit with Dave, Ann, and his pastor. We were hoping to minister to Dave and reassure him. This week had been full of change for him, and he was struggling to adapt. We left about 11pm and went back to the apartment to sleep. At 4:30am he called and asked me to come to the hospital. I told him we would be there in a couple hours, and prayed with him on the phone. Approximately an hour later, Dave called me and said, “John, I don’t know if you remember it, or not; but, Debi went home to heaven on the Lord’s Day.” He meant Sunday, and was not particularly referring to the fact that it was Easter.

I said, “Yes, Dave, I remember that.”

He said, “I want to do that, too.”

I paused for a minute, trying to understand what, exactly, he was saying. I finally said, “Dave, what do you mean……………………………Today?”

He said, “Yes………………will you pray and ask Him if he will take me home today?”

I prayed and relayed his request to his Heavenly Father, asking God to spare Dave further pain and suffering and grant Dave’s request if it were pleasing to Him and in His perfect plan, and would glorify Him.

Dave thanked me and said he wanted to see us soon. I told him we would be there as soon as possible.

Ann had arrived at the hospital before Doug and I got there. When we arrived, his breathing was becoming increasingly labored. We talked to him, but his voice was weak and he seemed so tired, closing his eyes often and his responses getting softer. We began to realize that God was answering his prayer. I called several of Dave’s lifelong friends, and was able to put them on speakerphone and hold it to his ear. With difficulty, they said their goodbyes. Dave’s breathing was slow, but steady; but he was not able to say anything now. The nurses came in and wanted to wash Dave up and change his bed. We excused ourselves and at the nurses’ suggestion went to the cafeteria for a quick bite to eat. At 12:58pm we came to the door of Dave’s room. The nurse said to come in quickly; that his vital signs were fading fast. I looked at Dave and his eyes were wide open, looking up, as if startled from sleep. I said, “He looks so alert.” As we walked around the bed to his side, I looked up at the monitors. At that moment they all flat-lined, and then the alarm sounded. I looked down at Dave and realized what he must have been seeing. It was 1:00pm on the Lord’s Day. Just as Dave had requested.

Dave no longer uses a blind person’s cane, or strong flashlights to read, or magnifiers to see. The operation that he so often prayed for, is complete. Now, he sees better than you and I see. Now, he sees the face of his dear Savior. Now he knows, even as he is known. Dave knew that he would be preceding us by only a little while. By only a moment, really. He knew that the dead in Christ would rise first, and then we which are alive and remain would be taken up. Don’t weep for Dave. We weep for ourselves and the loss we feel. If you are saved, your entry into Glory will be just as glorious as Dave’s. That’s what Dave would want. And that’s what the Savior wanted when He went to the Cross two thousand years ago and shed His blood for your sins. You are not your own, you are bought with a price. If you are honest, you will give Jesus what he paid for. YOU!

Dave’s Graduation Service will be at Bethel Baptist Church in Pekin, IL, this coming Saturday at 1pm Pekin time, (2pm Indiana time) with visitation two hours prior to the service. Other necessary details will be sent out as soon as available.

And, finally, we rejoice in the Lord, for His faithfulness, and the opportunity to grow in compassion through tribulation; that we may be able to minister to others, as is stated in 2 Cor. 1.

3 ¶ Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Thank you all for your love and involvement in David’s life and ours.

For my brother,

John DeKruyter

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